Many businesses across industries have integrated social media into their CRM systems early on; some better than others.
It’s not only about the adaptation but knowing how to leverage social media to get the best results and accelerate business growth.
It is common knowledge that the financial sector was highly affected by the global economic crises. Most banks and other financial services providers sustained a substantial loss in customer trust and loyalty. Integrating social media into their CRM systems and putting a considerable amount of effort into social media strategies is one of the ways to rebuild that trust.
One of the unique challenges for the entire financial industry is the vast variety of international and national laws and regulations that restrict the integration of social media in a few different ways:
- Internationally operating banks face various laws that restrict them in one or more countries in actually integrating any type of social media with their CRM system.
- Industry-specific regulations limit financial institutions in giving financial advice online due to privacy concerns of their customers.
- All of the available social networks have their own terms and conditions that contain regulations on companies’ communication with customers and prospects.
Due to these limitations, banks are reluctant to adopt any kind of social media as part of their communications strategy. Here are a few examples of what financial institutions might be worried about:
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- Degradation or loss of brand image. Negative feedback and controversial discussions on social media sites can damage the image of financial institutions. This is why it is crucial to have the right resources, expertise and a strategy in place when employing any type of external social media.
- Waste of energy and resources. Most banks make most of their profit through corporate banking and there is still a predominant opinion amongst the financial industry that social media is more for the individual than for corporations and therefore considered not to be valuable for revenue.
- Social media is only seen as a marketing channel. However, with a good strategy, it can be used for internal career development and recruitment.
In making use of social media and tying their CRM system to social media networks, banks and financial service providers can get closer to their customers, corporate and retail, and find out how to improve services and products. This will positively impact their revenue if the right strategy is in place. Here are a few selected benefits:
- New opportunities of designing customer-specific offers will emerge through the gathering and analyzing of big data via social CRM system
- Increased customer satisfaction through engaging with clients on social media platforms and easier management; For example: using social complaints management solutions integrated in CRM systems
- Encourage P2P (peer-to-peer) Support by establishing discussion forums and communities for customers and interested parties to exchange knowledge and profit from each other. A good suggestion might be to open forums for existing customers via a secure log-in to ensure a higher level of security – This can be an issue when it comes to sensitive financial issues
- Considering banks lose over 60% of customers due to long response times of customer service and also over 30% of financial service customers switched providers in 2012 it would seem wasteful not to leverage social media as a low-cost substitution to re-build strong relationships with customers. After all ‘Social customer service’ costs only 1/10 of customer service provided via phone.
6 Examples of banks successfully using social CRM
Even though the bank and financial industry are still reluctant to integrate social networks into their CRM, there are a few early adopters and best practice cases in most regions. Below is a brief selection:
In the US American Express has recently delivered a very unique campaign enabled via social CRM. The program the bank developed with Twitter allows AmEx customers to link their bank accounts with Twitter, and by using specific hash tags, customers earn savings from designated partners. This long-term social and brand campaign is focused on rewarding existing customers and since its foundation is social CRM it has a high ROI on media and sales. Another example is Bank of America which uses their Twitter account to track customer relationships and reduce response time to inquiries.
In the EMEA region the Spanish bank Caja Navarra provides customer support via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Skype and leverages communities to better understand their customers’ needs. The Jyske Bank in Denmark offers its clients interactive Q&A sessions via a social TV channel. The third European best practice case is First Direct, a UK subsidiary of the global HSBC bank, that leverages Facebook, after experimenting with their own platform, as a place for their customers to exchange advice and receive feedback from peers as well as from the bank itself. The German Deutsche Bank ended up with 27 new customer product ideas after asking their customers to vote on features they are missing in their portfolio.
In APJ the CIMB Bank sees the integration of social media into their communication strategy less as a risk but rather as opportunity to engage their customers with competitions or by letting them decide what their next credit card layout will be.
Considering the mentioned challenges above (and only a few were mentioned), the banking industry is still very reluctant towards any social media and it is unfamiliar territory, for most, as on-site customer service was always first priority. Since the evolution of the internet, however, and the rise of online banks (e.g. ING DiBa in Germany and ING Direct in the USA, now owned by Capital One) without physical locations connecting with customers and prospects in a cost-effective way, online becomes even more crucial. In addition to that it is the changed customer, ‘the social customer’ that banks need to react to.
‘Generation Y’, born early 1980s to the early 2000s, is growing-up to be the key market segment. This generation is doing business mobile on tablets and phones, tweeting the news and sharing customer reviews on the Internet. According to a recent study “more than 40 percent of high-net-worth individuals younger than 50 viewed social media as an important channel for communicating with their banks.” Young people today do not want to take the time to go to a physical location or wait hours on the phone to get service from their banks; if banks do not adapt to the fast-paced world of their customers they will not have a a lot of customers in the future.